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Three months in prison for Sacred Heart doc

Dr. Shanin Moshiri was sentenced Tuesday to three months in prison for taking a kickback to steer patients to the now-shuttered Sacred Heart Hospital on Chicago’s West Side. | Sun-Times file photo

A doctor convicted of taking a kickback to steer patients to the now-shuttered Sacred Heart Hospital on Chicago’s West Side was sentenced Tuesday to three months in prison.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly found Shanin Moshiri guilty in July of one count in an indictment that alleged he took a $2,000 check in March 2013 as part of what prosecutors have called a “sham” deal. The judge also acquitted Moshiri of two kickback counts. But Tuesday, Kennelly said a breakdown of the trust between doctors and patients “wrecks” the system.

“If you can’t trust your doctor, who can you trust?” Kennelly said. “It’s just that simple.”

Prosecutors had asked for up to 33 months in prison for Moshiri. They said his contracts to serve as an administrator and instructor for the podiatric residency program at Sacred Heart were intended to conceal the kickbacks. They said the hospital appeared to be paying Moshiri $196,000 between November 2006 and April 2013 for teaching services, but in reality the money was for patient referrals.

Between September 2008 and March 2010, prosecutors said the hospital doubled Moshiri’s payments from $2,000 to $4,000 a month without adding to his responsibilities.

When he originally convicted Moshiri, Kennelly pointed to the doctor’s own admission to law enforcement in April 2013 that his contract at Sacred Heart had “turned into” payments for referrals, as well as secretly recorded conversations of Moshiri talking about patient referrals while accepting his payments.

“[He] wants the Taj Mahal,” Moshiri said on tape of former Sacred Heart owner Ed Novak. “All or nothing. OK. He should be very happy I bring my patients here. This is not the first, uh, stop for me. OK?”

A jury would later find Novak guilty of ripping off Medicare and Medicaid, and Kennelly sentenced him in July to 4 1/2 years for bribing doctors to send patients to his sub-standard and, at times, maggot-infested hospital.

Moshiri’s attorney, Carl Clavelli, called his client an “incredibly kind man” and a “really diligent doctor,” but “when it comes to finances, he knows nothing.” Clavelli asked the judge not to send Moshiri to prison, insisting his client wasn’t paying attention to the money he was being paid — or the crime being committed.

“I truly believe it never crossed his mind until some time down the road,” Clavelli said.